Building Muscle: Your First Weightlifting Routine

Let me start off by welcoming you to weightlifting, and congratulating you on making the change. I remember those days well, and I hope you will revel in it, because I wish I had. And I wish that I had a well designed routine to propel my gains in my first year or so. Remember, it’s all uphill from here. But don’t fear; it’s the challenge that makes the reward so much sweeter.

I’m not going to attempt to blow smoke up your wazoo and claim that I’m an expert, or that I am a god among men. I’m not. What I am is an experienced lifter who has experimented with multiple styles of training, overseen a number of lifters’ training through an online medium, and have helped people just like you gain the muscle and strength they crave.

You may have opened up one of the latest bodybuilding mags and seen their attempt to market what usually amounts to an advanced routine. These routines are usually accompanied by pictures of a steroid user, or a well-developed male model. They are followed up with claims that you will look like this guy in 3 months, if you follow his routine, his diet, or take his recommended supplements.

Don’t believe it. If in the next 3 to4 months you see a 10-15 lb gain, then consider yourself lucky. You have probably stumbled upon a well programed routine and possibly a great diet.

The simplest way to muscular growth is a two step process:

  1. A well thought out progressive resistance program.
  2. A hyper-caloric diet.

Now then lets go over these two points in greater detail.

What is a progressive resistance program?

This is any lifting routine that focuses on progression from workout to workout or week to week. There are many forms of progression, but as a beginner you need only concern your self with the two biggest types of progress: weight and rep progression. The routine at the end of this article is built on these, and will carry you into your intermediate years. Now for a quick definition of these progression types:

Weight progression – the act of adding weight to the bar. An example would be if you did 2×5 with 100 lbs in the bench, then the next time you bench, you might add 5 lbs.

Rep progression – the act of adding reps to increase workload. An example would be going from 2×3 to 2×5 with the same weight.

What is a hyper caloric diet?

A hyper caloric diet is any diet where you intentionally eat above your maintenance calorie level, i.e. taking in more than you need to maintain weight. An easy way to accomplish this is to eat 3 meals a day with a nice serving of protein carbs and fats, and then adding 2-3 mini meals or snacks in to up your calorie intake.

Ok, I hope by this point in the article you are more confident in your ability to add muscular bodyweight. So let’s get to the routine that you will use to build that new muscle. This is a simple routine I made for anyone who needs to add weight and strength, and especially for a beginning weight lifter.

It focuses on building your strength on the big basic movements. You will be lifting three days a week, on non-consecutive days. You will be alternating two different workouts, and when you can complete all the reps in each set for an exercise, then you will increase the weight. 5 lbs for all upper body exercises, and 10 lbs for squats and deadlifts.

Also, before you begin, you need to find your five rep max for each of the exercises (and your rep maxes for the exercises that don’t use five rep sets respectively). Then, start off 10 lbs lower on upper body exercises, and 20 lbs lower on squats and deadlifts. Don’t worry though, you’ll be back up in weight, progressing quickly. Don’t add weight if you can’t complete all the reps in good form.

Squat- 3×5
Bench press- 3×5
BB row- 3×5
BB curl- 2×8

Deadlift- 3×5
Military Press- 3×5
Chin-ups- 3×6-8
Bench Dips (or triceps dips)- 2×8

That’s it. Be sure to warm up prior to your work sets. Also, have fun and work hard. You’ll be bigger and stronger in no time. Good luck.